IKEA "Fix This Kitchen" Challenge - The Results Are In!

IKEA "Fix This Kitchen" Challenge - The Results Are In!

Oct 7, 2011
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Thank you to everyone who sent in pictures for the "Fix This Kitchen" challenge!

Over the past few weeks, the Apartment Therapy team, along with the "Fix This Kitchen" cast and the IKEA® design expert, Janice Simonsen, chose three kitchen-challenged participants who could really use a "fix."

Read on to see the final winning picks and the judges' feedback for improving the spaces, including some great product suggestions from IKEA, the Life Improvement Store!

  • A large kitchen with little usable workspace and storage.

  • A kitchen that desperately needs to be child-proofed.

  • A tiny kitchen in a rental apartment.

    The three contest winners received personalized advice from our expert panel of judges, including professional designer Nicole Facciuto and Chef Eric Greenspan, owner of The Foundry in Los Angeles, dynamic co-hosts of A&E's "Fix This Kitchen," and Janice Simonsen, IKEA design expert and head blogger for IKEA's recently-launched Design Blog. In addition to expert feedback, each winner received $100 IKEA gift cards to put the judges' plans in action!

    Pick #1: A large kitchen with little usable workspace and storage

    Katie reached out to us looking to maximize usable work space and storage in her large kitchen. "Our kitchen has no counters or cabinets!" she said. "We've made do with some temporary solutions while we've saved our pennies, but soon we hope to do a complete overhaul."

    The team thinks wrap-around cabinets and extending the storage area over the sink would be a good solution to the storage crisis. "A quick installation will allow for more hidden storage, as well as bring an overall cohesiveness to the space," said Janice. "IKEA has some great options, like the AKRUM series, which would be a great fit here." Nicole also suggests purchasing a counter-depth fridge. That way, the fridge doesn't end up taking over the room now. She suggests the NUTID S23.

    "And if there's any kitchen that screams for an island, it's this one," said Chef Eric. An island will allow for great usable work space - try to find one with cabinets underneath to maximize storage as well!

    While the design team loves the old-world-meets-new-world vibe with the old bowl sink and appliances, the space could really use some color!

    "I kind of like the cleanliness of the all-white kitchen," said Chef Eric. "It reminds me of the professional kitchens I'm used to. But one good way to add color is with colorful smallwares from IKEA - adding some of these accessories can really bring some life to the space!"

    Janice suggests bringing in colorful textiles, like IKEA's IRIS dish towels, and different kitchen accessories like the STINN oven mitt. "The SIGNE rug looks great in kitchens," Janice said. "Lay it by the back door or the sink!"

    "The best part of 'Fix This Kitchen' this season was not just helping out with design, but personalizing functionality of the kitchen based on what the homeowners like to cook. It takes life improvement to a different level," said Eric. So if you're trying to save and not fix everything at once, be sure to keep in mind what you're looking to do in your kitchen and improve that space first.

    Pick #2: A kitchen that desperately needs to be child-proofed

    Jill wrote in letting us know that while she loves her thick granite countertops, she's concerned about her water-damaged MDF cabinets. And with an 18-month-old hanging around, she has some very real worries about the open storage.

    "Designing around children can be easy!" said Janice. "IKEA has some great child safety products that will allow you to stay true to the original look-and-feel you were going for in this space!" Check out this PATRULL cooktop guard, for example. This easy-clean, stainless steel product reduces the risk of toddlers grabbing hot pots or burning their fingers on a hot stove.

    The team agrees that putting some doors on the pantry is a good idea as well. "With an 18-month-old, that open cabinetry is more dangerous than you'd think," said Chef Eric. The team suggests painting the door with a chalkboard paint to allow the little one to express their artistic capabilities as they grow - it will also allow them to stay entertained while you cook!

    For the water damaged cabinets, have a few cabinet doors replaced. "Since they are MDF, they are easily milled to existing door style," said Nicole. Then paint the lower cabinetry and cabinetry surrounding the fridge a soft cream. This way, the beautiful uppers stand out as a focal point and provide a clean contrast to the rustic post and countertops.

    The space is also a little dark. Try adding in some track lighting underneath the upper cabinets for an easy fix, here. The GRUNDTAL spotlights and GRUNDTAL countertop lights are both good options.

    Eric said, " 'Fix This Kitchen' isn't about just swapping the old for the new; it's about really getting into showing how the space can be transformed to work for the homeowner." Little changes in a space like this can really make a huge difference in making it the perfect place for this young family.

    Pick #3: A tiny kitchen in a rental apartment

    Due to a coding issue, Susan's landlord replaced her old stove with a new one that can't fit into the "stove hole," as she called it. "It's inconvenient for setting up a table," she said. And in this tiny room, it's left a relatively large, unusable space.

    "I have to say, I can relate to a teeny-tiny kitchen," said Nicole. "Being a New Yorker myself, it does come with the territory." Thankfully, there are still ways to change the space, without needing a complete overhaul. To address the empty space left by taking out the original range, put in one of IKEA's free-standing units, like the LIMHAMN shelving unit or the VÄRDE drawer unit. These units can also come with you if you ever move out of your apartment.

    Janice suggests putting a work table next to the stove so it doesn't feel like it's standing alone - it should still feel like an extension of the kitchen. The FLYTTA kitchen cart is a great option for this, and can be moved to make more space based on whether you're cooking or entertaining.

    The team also feels that the microwave cubby could use some love. Putting the wine cooler and microwave on free-standing shelves like the LIMHAMN wall shelf will make them feel like they "belong" there and weren't just stuck somewhere as an after-thought.

    "Problems are much more difficult to address when you don't own the space," said Janice. "But you just need to get creative!"

    For More Inspiration

    Be sure to tune in to "Fix This Kitchen" on A&E this Saturday at 9:30 a.m. ET to see Nicole and Chef Eric's kitchen makeovers in action. For even more IKEA design inspiration, check out Share Space - a place where you can share your sense of design and the IKEA products you use to define it. Log in and upload pictures of your kitchen fixes today!

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